1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East members from across Western New York came together on August 3 to hold an informational picket at The Emeralds Nursing Home in Buffalo, New York. The action is part of an ongoing effort to bring attention to the connection between downstate owned, for-profit nursing homes, increased short staffing, and diminishing quality care.

“We are taking a stand for our residents and all of us who provide care and services to them,” said Virginia Holt, an Environmental Service Aide who has worked at Emerald South for 38 years. “We have never seen it so bad. Things have to change.”

In solidarity, workers from Emerald North, Emerald South, Sheridan Manor/Safire Northtowns, and Williamsville Suburban/Safire Williamsville all owned by the Landa family protested the for-profit owner’s business practices of short staffing, overusing temporary caregivers, and paying caregivers a low wage barely above the state minimum.

At the picket 1199SEIU caregivers were supported by elected officials, resident families, community activists. New York State Senator, Mark Panepinto, told workers that he is “ashamed” at the way the new owner of The Emeralds is treating the workers. Panepinto pledged to write a letter to the NYS Department of Health and “get them to take a look at this organization and make sure they are doing the right thing.”

To close the day LPN at Emerald South, Jeannine Clark, encouraged her co-workers to stay strong and united. “No matter where you work, we are all family. We are in this struggle together. Today was great but it is not the end, it is only the beginning.”